Mobile Gourmet: Kitchen Gadgets; App Design – Cool. But Worth It?

Is the cool, bump capability a practical worker app?

By Jason Wong

If you’re a home owner, I’m sure you have heard that a nice kitchen can add a lot of value to your house. There’s certainly no shortage of bells and whistles that you can build into your kitchen. You may have visited showrooms, or even your friends’ kitchens, and came away with a wish list of renovations as long as your arm. Some things like granite counter tops, fancy hood ventilation, and double drawer dish washers are pricey, but often worth the investment. But other things like a built-in cabinet vacuum, appliance garage, or even an over-the-stove pot filler often times may not be worth the investment–as cool as they may sound.

Let’s take the pot filler. It sounds practical and is a cool gadget to show off in your kitchen, but unless you have a large Italian family, you probably aren’t using it everyday to boil pasta. After accounting for the plumbing costs to install it, you’re better off just lugging the pots back and forth between sink and stove top. I have a great aunt whose daughter insisted that she install a pot filler in her kitchen because of all the soups that she makes. It seemed like a great idea, but in the end, she’s happy filling her pots from the sink and carrying them two feet over to the stove.

The parallel with mobility is in app design. There are so many cool looking apps with slick user interfaces and controls. You can bump, shake, flip, and much more when interacting with apps. Many companies see these cool features in consumer apps and instinctively ask, “What can I do for my business apps?” This is kitchen envy – thinking about how cool those bells and whistles could be in the app be without thinking through the usability consequences.

Sure a bump capability may be a cool and quick way to exchange data between two devices, but is it really practical for a worker app? Instead of implementing a fancy carousel control, maybe a simpler pick list would be quicker and more intuitive for many work processes. I’m not saying let’s go back to basics for your UI, but think about form as well as function. After all, decisions made due to kitchen envy often lead to kitchen remorse.


Jason Wong is a founding member of Mobile Masters, blogging about the gourmet side of mobile.  Follow him on Twitter @mobilegourmet

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